“If you fail to plan, you should plan to fail”
We all want to eat well. But between long workdays, meetings and activities, sometimes squeezing in a workout is tough – let alone making a full day’s worth of healthy meals and snacks. It’s no surprise “lack of time” is often cited as one of the biggest challenges of eating well. How many times do we grab something because it’s quick and easy, even if it’s not the best for us? Not to fear, I have good news for all you busy folk – convenient can be healthy too!
One of the best ways to marry the two is by doing the prep work (the most time-consuming part of cooking and smart snacking) ahead of time. #SundayFoodPrep and “Organize Yourself Skinny” concepts have become somewhat of a phenomenon for busy people trying to maintain quality eating habits. The simple idea is, when you have options that are good for you, as well as easy and convenient, you’re more likely to take the healthy route vs. the one that takes you to a drive-thru window.
The best part? Food prep doesn’t have to take a ton of time. There are several fast and simple preps you can make that pay off big time during the busy week.
1. Hard-boiled eggs
Bring a pot of water to a full boil. Gently place eggs in the water, taking care not to let them break. Boil for about 15 minutes, remove and let cool before refrigerating.
Grab 3 to stash in the work fridge. Peel, toss 2 of the yolks, slice and add some salt and pepper for a simple 100 calorie, protein-packed snack. Or, slice one and add to a salad for added sustenance and protein.
Skinless, boneless chicken is a great lean protein that can be cooked (grilled or baked) in bulk, refrigerated up to 5 days and re-heated in the microwave. Dice and add to a salad. Or melt cheese, add veggies and slap on a toasted whole grain bun for a sandwich. Or you can pair it with veggies for dinner.
Now, I know what you’re thinking – what business does a vegetarian have telling me about chicken? For all meat-related notes in this blog, I’ve tapped into Chris, my carnivorous, chef-extraordinaire manfriend.
Easy Snacks and Sides
Wash and cut up fruits like cantaloupe, mangoes and strawberries, portion out (about 1 cup of each) and refrigerate in see-through containers. When fruit is cut and washed, and you can see it in the container, you’re more likely to choose it over a bag of Skittles.
Bring a container to work for a healthy afternoon pick-me-up and eliminate that trip to the vending machine to satisfy the need for a sugar fix!
Just like with fruit, pre-cutting and washing veggies like broccoli, carrots and cucumbers makes it way more likely you’ll choose them instead of a pre-packaged, less-healthy option.
Dip veggies in hummus or low-fat ranch, or smear celery with a little bit of peanut butter for a great snack. Pre-cut veggies can also be quickly baked or boiled, and served as a healthy dinner side.
1. Crockpot soups and roasts
I discovered the joys of crockpot cooking last fall. It’s so easy to buy a pre-packaged soup mix, toss it in the crockpot with water and let it cook a few hours. About halfway through cooking, I toss in some extra veggies and tofu. I’ll usually keep about two servings in the fridge for the week and freeze the rest for later use.
A roast is also incredibly easy to make in the crockpot. It takes about 8 hours on a low setting, so it’s perfect to throw together in the morning – and you’ll have dinner waiting when you get home! If you’re able to get home over the lunch hour, add veggies like carrots and potatoes (they’ll get mushy if you let them cook the full 8 hours).
One of my favorite home-cooked dishes is stir-fry. I’ll whip up a batch full of veggies and tofu (carnivores, you can use chicken or shrimp), and not only will I have a healthy dinner that night, I’ll have 3 additional servings. Bonus – this is one dish that tastes just as good reheated as it does fresh. See my recipe here.
On a final note, don’t forget beverages. If you struggle to drink plain H20, make a pitcher of Crystal Light on Sunday. It’s an easy, tastier way to meet your water needs and is a much better option than sugary juice or soda.
What are your favorite, easy food prep choices? Comment or tweet me @runlikeagirl311.